8. Great Moments in Aviation: 5-Hour Tour in Berlin
The German capital has always attracted aviation pioneers and companies such as Otto Lilienthal, Hans Grade, Manfred von Richthofen, Melli Beese, Rumpler, Fokker, and Lufthansa, which was founded in Hotel Kaiserhof in 1926.
Start the tour at Köpenicker Straße 113, where Dampfkessel- und Maschinenfabrik Otto Lilienthal was located. Lilienthal is known as an aviation pioneer but he was above all an entrepreneur and engineer, a true Jack of all trades.
On the former Johannisthal Airfield you will find widely scattered buildings from different development periods of the area, all with an interesting story to tell. All major aircraft manufacturers were represented by their companies here but it was the Wright brothers who first settled here in 1910. The German Laboratory for Aviation made Johannisthal a location for science – the large wind tunnel, the Trudelturm, and the engine dynamometer are all from the 1930s.
The tour continues to the aerodrome in Potsdam, where you will discover the period of aviation history before the First World War, when Zeppelins were still superior to aircraft. Admire the huge entrance gate from 1910, which was used by passengers who had booked a Zeppelin flight.
You will then explore the remains of the military air base in Döberitz. Here the “Red Baron” Manfred von Richthofen, Max Immelmann, and Oswald Boelke learned their craft. A technology center was also located here, which held the world’s first flight simulator and where the synchronization of the gunner for vehicle-mounted machine guns and propellers was developed.
The final stop on the way back to Berlin is Staaken Airfield, which began as an airship port in 1915 only to experience an eventful history. There are still buildings from all periods that now partly stand in an industrial park: the old gas station, the main entrance to the air base, Lufthansa hangars, Heinkel Tower, and the New Jerusalem settlement.